BWW Reviews: FAC's FOREVER PLAID Is Nostalgic in the Best Way
Forever Plaid has what is probably my favorite premise for a revue show: on February 9th, 1964, a close-harmony quartet called Forever Plaid is on their way to their first big show when their car crashes with a bus and all four members are killed. (The bus was transporting a group of schoolgirls to see the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan, a symbol of the shifting music paradigm that was already rendering the Plaids' sound obsolete.) Now, years later, the alignment of the planets and other vague metaphysical forces have arranged for the group to finish their earthly business and perform their first-and last-concert before heading to the great beyond.
It's not only an original and memorable concept, it gets the audience in Forever Plaid's corner right away. The moment Sparky (Jason Lythgoe), Smudge (Jesse Havea), Jinx (Kevin Pierce) and Frankie (Thadd Krueger) stumble into the physical plane and onstage, they are earnest, approachable, and endearingly dorky. Fifty years have passed, but they're still not sure they're ready for this gig-and when they complete it, what then? Even as we laugh at their first faltering steps, we want them to succeed. Nathan Halvorson and his cast recognize and capitalize on the Plaids' innate likability, which is instrumental in selling the show's passel of 1950s pop standards. The resulting mood is nostalgic in the best way: warm without being cloying, sentimental without being saccharine.
The four actors sing beautifully both as individuals and a group (though the sound design occasionally throws a monkey wrench in the wonderfully blended harmonies), and the humor, while occasionally forced, succeeds often enough to get the ball rolling. The production really hits its stride at the same time as the nervous, nosebleed-prone Jinx, when Pierce breaks out with a surprisingly fierce rendition of "Cry" that's both funny and awesome. Havea's bespectacled Smudge follows up with a silken bass rendition of "Sixteen Tons" so good that it seems a shame to take an act break after it. Fortunately, intermission does not spoil the momentum: by the time the Plaids are passing out props and percussion instruments for an audience-participation calypso medley, it's impossible not to get swept away. And just try to catch your breath during the marvelous, manic summary of The Ed Sullivan Show.
FOREVER PLAID brings good old-fashioned fun to the Fine Arts Center now through June 1st, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. For tickets, call the box office at 719-634-5583 or visit csfineartscenter.org.